The Panama Canal announced that the queue of vessels waiting to transit has shown improvement. Standing at 108 at both entrances to the waterway, there are 20% less vessels waiting in total since last week (135), which is normal for this time of year.
An extended dry season and the El Niño phenomenon caused the Panama Canal to implement measures earlier this year to save water, in order to maintain high reliability levels. While these measures and the season’s high vessel demand have had an impact on waiting times for some –mostly for vessels without reservations— such demand underscores the maritime industry’s continued preference for the route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Results to Date (Fiscal Year 2023 October 1st – September 30th)
One month before the end of Fiscal Year 2023, the Panama Canal total transits are 799 above budget and 470 million tons have transited the Canal, on budget.
The number of vessels on stand-by will depend on market demands. As we approach the peak season at the Panama Canal, and if diminished rainfall patterns remain within projections, a queue of vessels above the usual is expected, but measures taken by the Canal have proven effective. Those measures are:
- For the Neopanamax locks, 13.4 meters (44 feet) maximum draft levels (down from an average of 15.2 meters (50 feet) last year.
- . For the locks, an average of 32 transits per day (down from 36)
The Panama Canal urges its customers to make reservations to transit, as this allows them to secure a spot. Vessels without reservations transit on a first-come, first-served basis. The Panama Canal makes sure to provide timely information to all its customers.
The lack of rainfall has impacted Gatun Lake, now at 24.2 meters (79.7 feet), compared to 26.6 meters (87.41 feet) in September of previous years.
Generally, the lake ends a normal rainy season at 27.1 meters (89 feet) in November and ends the dry season at the end of April at 25.9 meters (85 feet). Measures taken will be maintained for the remainder of this year and throughout 2024, unless weather conditions change significantly from current forecasts.
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